Page last updated at 15:37 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Nurse wins race dismissal claim

A senior nurse who was told she was from the "wrong culture" in an appraisal has won a racial discrimination tribunal.

Dr Sarina Saiger, who worked at two hospitals in Cumbria, also claimed she was unfairly dismissed from her job.

After a seven-week hearing, Dr Saiger had 16 complaints upheld and 11 dismissed by a Newcastle tribunal.

Carole Heatly, chief executive of North Cumbria Hospitals Trust, apologised for any "distress" caused.

She added that significant changes had been made.

Dr Saiger, who has a PhD in healthcare and IT and now lives in County Durham, was an assistant director of nursing at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven and the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.

She worked there from June 2005 until May 2008 when she was dismissed, the hearing heard.

I was in absolute dismay and despair. It was nothing to do with competence
Dr Sarina Saiger

Among the claims made by Dr Saiger, a single mother of mixed race, was an accusation that her boss, then director of nursing Bruce Skilbeck, told her during an appraisal in November 2005 that she was the "wrong colour and the wrong culture" for Cumbria.

Dr Saiger told the tribunal: "I remember thinking that I had misheard. I asked him to repeat it and he did.

"I felt I had been punched in the stomach.

"I was in absolute dismay and despair. It was nothing to do with competence."

Trust apologises

The tribunal also that Dr Saiger had made other claims against the health service, having twice accepted compromise agreements with other hospital trusts.

However, after the tribunal found in Dr Saiger's favour, the trust apologised.

Ms Heatly, added: "The trust apologises to all concerned for any distress caused by these events but would emphasise that it was some considerable time ago and since then the trust has significantly changed its board."

She said the trust took the judgement seriously and that "equality" issues were a priority.

Dr Saiger, who was born in Bradford, is of Indian descent.

A compensation hearing will be heard at a later date.

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